Up to 80,000 Israelis currently quarantined over possible coronavirus exposure


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Between 50,000 and 80,000 Israelis are currently in home quarantine due to potential exposure to the coronavirus as the country tries to stem the spread of the new disease.

As of Thursday evening, 17 Israelis had been diagnosed with coronavirus. But many more are considered at high risk of exposure because of their recent travel history.

On Wednesday, Israel added several European countries to the list of those that Israelis returning from must self-quarantine for two weeks: Austria, Germany, Spain, France and Switzerland. These countries are in addition to mainland China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Italy, where restrictions have already been in place.

The travel restrictions were among new guidelines announced Wednesday by the Health Ministry that also require Israel organizations to cancel all international conferences until further notice.

Mass events over 5,000 people also are forbidden — a restriction that has led to the cancellation of concerts, sporting events, the Jerusalem Marathon and dozens of Purim events.

Israelis in home quarantine must register with the Health Ministry. Most of those in home quarantine have returned from countries where the virus has spread, Boaz Lev, who heads the Health Ministry’s epidemic treatment unit, told Israel’s Channel 12.

Lev said the quarantine effort depends on Israelis “acting as model citizens,” which he said was happening.

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